Monthly Archives: October 2013

Depot

I finally tried Depot this weekend,  it first opened all the way back in 2011 so has been around for a while.  The no bookings policy makes things a bit tricky as we’ve got two small children at home and we usually don’t want to spend our precious nights out without children waiting hours for a table.

We were told on Sunday night that a table for four would take 30 to 40 minutes (which is a much better time than the hour and a half we were told last time we tried to go) so we took a seat at a spare outside table and started with some beer and cider.  We were pleasantly surprised when we were called inside after only 15 minutes.

Depot is always busy and its easy to see why, the wait staff were friendly and full of personality and the food was amazing.

We tried a range of dishes including the Tio Point oysters and Tuatuas from the raw bar; the turbot sliders with pickled lemon mayo and watercress; cumin battered warehou tortillas with slaw, tomatillo sauce and corriander; fergus bone marrow, wood roasted with parsley and shallot salad; mini yorkshire puddings with slow roasted lamb; crisp pork hock with apple and horseradish salsa verde and the potato skins with gouda and porcini salt.

Of all the dishes, the bone marrow was the only disappointing one, being very greasy and rich without a lot of flavour.  However, everything else was outstanding, the sliders were probably the best dish of the night, soft, fresh white buns, crispy fish fried to perfection and creamy, zingy mayo.  I also loved the tortillas, the fish was perfectly spiced and complimented by its accompaniments.

We moved onto dessert and decided to share two,  a sugar pie with cream and an Eton mess.  The sugar pie was nice but a bit boring, really sweet and a light caramel flavour but I found it a bit of a nothing dish.  However, the Eton mess was delicious, crunchy meringue, cream, ice cream and fresh new season strawberries.

The service we received was a bit patchy.  Our waiter was friendly, attentive and charming, they ensured our drinks were always topped up and even put a candle in one of the desserts and sang Happy Birthday for one of my friends. On the flip side we received a dish we didn’t order and one of our sides, the slaw was missed.

Overall, we had a very enjoyable night and I am definitely keen to return, maybe for lunch or mid week when the wait hopefully isn’t too long.  Although the good news is that if a table isn’t available at Depot, the new Al Brown eatery The Fed is just next door.

http://www.eatdepot.co.nz

Beauty Department: Benefit Brow Zings

Benefit Cosmetics, a beauty brand from San Francisco, USA, recently launched in New Zealand.  A counter opened at the Auckland International Airport a few months ago and a counter at Smith and Caugheys Newmarket just opened on the weekend.  I was obsessed with Benefit products about five or six years ago when I was doing a lot of international travel and would buy as much as I could whenever I came across their products.  Benefit has a focus on fun with a retro feel to their packaging and adorable product names such as Badgal Lash (mascara), Dr Feelgood (a complexion balm) and Sun Beam (a bronze liquid highlighter).

I visited their counter in Smith and Caugheys Newmarket on the weekend and one of their makeup artists applied their eyebrow kit Brow Zings for me.  I’ve never really done my eyebrows before.  I have black hair and reasonable sized brows that I keep in shape with regular plucking.  I’ve only really used the odd tube of brow mascara to brush stray hairs into place but have never really stuck with anything.

A good friend recently recommended that I start defining my eyebrows, in her words; it will change your life and you’ll never go back.

The Benefit makeup artist was a bit more heavy handed with the Brow Zings than I would probably be at home and every time I caught sight of myself in the mirror, I did a double take at my big thick, well defined eyebrows.

I had to take a couple of days to think about it but yesterday went back to purchase the kit.  Brow Zings come with a coloured soft wax for keeping hairs in place and a matching powder for filling in gaps.  You also get two little brushes for application and a mini pair of tweezers.  I tried the product at home by myself for the first time today and am thrilled with the results.  I applied a lot less and the result is sharply defined eyebrows that frame my face a lot better.  It also didn’t add much more time to my morning makeup routine.  Maybe only another minute or so.

Its only been one day, but so far I’m a convert and will be adding this product to my daily makeup routine.  It looks like my friend was right, now that I’ve started, I can’t go back!

Brow Zings by Benefit Cosmetics – $57

https://www.facebook.com/BenefitCosmeticsNewZealand

Best Cheap Eats in Auckland

Metro’s recommendations for the Best Cheap Eats in Auckland (under $20) came out recently in the September 2013 issue and I’ve been trying to work my way through as many of the restaurants as I can over the last six weeks.  I thought I’d do a quick round up of the places I’ve been to so far and how they were.

Bun Hut (Dominion Road) – we had the steamed pork buns with cabbage and chives as well as the pan fried pork dumplings with cabbage and chives, a bowl of noodles with gravy, a chive pancake and a chive and egg pancake.  The restaurant is very bare bones but the dumplings and pork buns are stuffed full of delicious juicy meat.  The pancakes were soft and tasty and the noodles were smothered with a tasty gravy and really good value for $5.

Mamak Malaysian (Chancery, Central Auckland) – I had the chicken murtabak which is a roti stuffed with meat, then pan fried until crispy.  It comes with chicken gravy, fish gravy, Dahl and cabbage.  My friend had the seafood laksa.  The murtabak was delicious and crispy with tasty gravy, although a little bit meat heavy for me, next time I might try the vegetable version or go halves with someone else in two dishes.  My friend enjoyed his laksa too, saying it was very tasty and not too coconutty as some laksa can be.

Sanchun Bamboo (Commerce Street, Auckland Central) – I had the vegetarian Bibimbap, which is a rice based dish which comes in a hot stone bowl with a variety of vegetables, chilli bean paste and a raw egg cracked on top. When the food is all mixed up, the egg cooks and the rice goes crispy from the heat of the bowl.  It came with a variety of Korean side dishes including Kimchi, bean sprouts, potatoes and an egg dish.  The food was all fresh and delicious and I was offered top ups of my side dishes even though I couldn’t finish my Bibimbap.

Selera (Khyber Pass, Newmarket) – this place has in my opinion the best laksa in Auckland.  The char kway teow is also delicious as are the curry puffs and the rotis.

Sri Puteri’s (Queens Road, Panmure) – offering a combination of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian dishes.  We had the seafood laksa, the char kway teow and the roti with chicken gravy, fish gravy and dhal.  The roti was amazing, probably the best roti I’ve had, soft, light and crispy, the laksa was tasty but the char kway teow was bland and disappointing.

Tanpopo Ramen (Anzac Ave, Auckland Central) – A large menu of many different types of ramen.  All contain the same fresh, homemade noodles and there is a range of soup bases to choose from.  I had the Miso Tonkotsu Ramen which is a pork and miso based soup with noodles, BBQ pork, vegetables, bamboo shoots and dried seaweed.  The soup was rich and hearty, the noodles fresh and the whole dish warming and nourishing.

Wok N Noodle Bar (Normanby Road, Mt Eden) – A lot more modern and westernised than the majority of other Asian places around.  The menu is huge and the size of the meals even bigger.  The food is more fusion style and they serve a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian.  I had the Pad see u which is thick rice noodles with chicken, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and egg in a homemade sweet soya sauce.  The dish was filling, fresh and tasty.

Velvet Burger (Fort Street, CBD) – Velvet burger is a gourmet style burger franchise that originated in Dunedin.  The burgers are huge and they pride themselves on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  We ordered a range of burgers including The Squawk Dawg (standard beef burger), Velvet Burger (venison with pineapple and chilli mayonnaise), Homegrown (lamb with either chutney or a minty yogurt sauce), The Babe (crumbed chicken with pineapple and bacon) and the Animal Rights (a kumara and coriander patty with beetroot and a minty yogurt sauce).  All the burgers come with salad, aioli and Velvet relish.  We also tried their wedges, kumara chips, hashies and fries.  Our burgers were a little bit cold by the time we got them home to eat but they were still delicious and would have been even better if we had been able to eat them fresh and hot.

Tiffin (New North Road, Kingsland) – Tiffin cooks excellent North Indian curries with the usual suspects such as butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and korma all covered.  They also do a few more unusual dishes including a mango chicken curry.  My favourite is the mushroom saag, mushrooms cooked in a thick, rich spinach gravy, usually accompanied by a garlic naan.

Renkon (Ponsonby, Parnell, Takapuna and the CBD) – an old favourite with fresh, healthy Japanese style donburi meals available.  All dishes are available on either rice or udon noodles and all main dishes are priced at $11.50.

Ramen Do (Symonds Street, Auckland) – Fresh, homemade ramen noodles which are worlds away from any instant ramen you have at home, these noodles are tender but still chewy and incredibly fresh.  This is the place that changed my perception of ramen noodles as a cheap unhealthy snack.

Han San Vietnamese (Newmarket, Panmure, CBD and Glenfield) – another old favourite that I’ve been going to for many years.  Fresh, healthy tasting Vietnamese food.  The vermicelli salads with either lemongrass chicken or fried pork spring rolls and shredded pork are my favourites.  Although I’ve been a bit disappointed recently and have been finding the food a bit bland.  They could do with using more fresh herbs like many of the Vietnamese restaurants overseas do to liven up the food and really bring it to life.

Cronuts

Cronuts are one of the latest food fads to explode in Auckland.  They are said to have originated from chef Domonique Ansell of The Domonique Ansell Bakery in New York.  Described as a doughnut – croissaint hybrid, they are not actually made by deep frying croissant pastry but are in fact a type of laminated dough that is made using a proprietary recipe.  The dough cooked then sugared, iced or filled.

It seems like almost every cafe in Auckland is currently offering a cronut on their menu in a range of flavours from cinnamon sugar to chocolate and vanilla custard filled.

I’ve tried cronuts from a couple of different places and have found that the product varies wildly depending on where you buy from.

The first cronut I tried was a cinnamon and sugar flavour (below) from Petit Bocal which is a French cafe in Sandringham.  See my posts on Petit Bocal here and here.  The others food I’ve tried from Petit Bocal was top rate but their cronuts were disappointing.  Although it had the croissant like layers, it was small, flat and really just tasted like a doughnut.

I next tried cronuts from Coffee and Donuts, the latest addition to Britomart, located at the back of the Laudromat boutique.  These were entirely different, although they looked like a doughnut, they were about twice the size of a regular doughnut and light but dense at the same time.  The layers inside were clearly visible and feather light  and the outside crisp yet chewy.  One cronut was iced with chocolate and almond flakes and the other switch a caramel sauce and hazelnuts (as seen in the image at the top of this post).  The caramel one was by far the best.

Although the cronuts from Coffee and Donuts were delicious, they were also incredibly rich and sweet, I could virtually feel the fat oozing into my mouth with each bite.  I’m not sure how anyone could get through a whole cronut on their own.

Although I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to get some more cronuts, the bottom line is if you want to indulge (and they are most definitely an indulgence!) in the cronut craze, be careful where you buy your cronuts from as they’re not all created equally.

Currently Coveting: Ingrid Starnes SS13 Collection

Ingrid Starnes is a New Zealand fashion designer who launched her first collection in winter 2010.  Her clothes have a vintage feel but are thoroughly modern.  Current fashion fads won’t be found in her collections either with the clothes tending to have a classic, ladylike appeal.

The new spring/summer 2013 range is apparently inspired by Norwegian Wood, a novel by Haruki Murakami whose title in Japanese is Noruwei No Mori, the standard translation of The Beatles song Norwegian Wood.  I’ve read Norwegian Wood is an outstanding book that I’ve read many times and never tire of, so maybe this explains why this collection has so many pieces that I’m in love with.  I have included images of my favourites below.

The Katey shirt in Oriental Poppy Print

The Darmin trench in olive and the Milford dress in olive.

The Clancy top in cream.

The Delores singlet in pine.

The Basil pants in olive and the Odette cardigan in carrot and lemon

http://www.ingridstarnes.com

Kazuya

Kazuya is a very special fine dining restaurant located at the top of Symonds Street, Auckland in a strip of otherwise cheap and cheerful restaurants, takeaway outlets and a few retail shops.  The front of the restaurant consists of a white window displaying the menu and gives very little hint of what is to be found inside.

The dining room is small, cosy and intimate.  The seating is cleverly divided by booths which allow you to feel like you’re ensconced in your own private space.

The food itself is a fusion of European and Japanese cuisines which is a result of chef Kazuya Yamauchi’s background growing up in Japan and then travelling around Europe as part of his role at Aquapazza, a prominent Italian restaurant in Tokyo.

I’ve been to Kazya twice, the first time with one other person and the second time in a group of six.  When we dined in the group of six, the wait staff remembered my husband and I and gave us some special menu options.  We were amazed that they remembered us, our last visit was around eight months ago, but this is a demonstration of the level of service at this establishment.

On our most recent visit two of our group had the degustation menu of 11 courses including an amuse bouche, cheese, sorbet, dessert and petites fours.  On top of this you also get soft, chewy homemade bread and cheese sticks along with all the meat and seafood dishes. The other four members of our party had the signature seven course menu which also included a complimentary amuse bouche, the bread, dessert and petites fours and again a selection of meat and seafood dishes.

There were too many different dishes to list here and all of the food was delicious, full of flavour, fresh and beautifully presented with a very high level of attention to detail.

The standouts of the meal were the king crab with ratatouille and horseradish cream, an usual combination that went together perfectly, the sweet, tender crab meat, the rich silky cream and the freshness of the ratatouille.  The Wakanui grain fed beef with truffle, potato puree and jus was also a highlight, the beef looks rare but is in fact cooked to medium, juicy, melt in the mouth and tender.  And finally, one of the petites fours, a white chocolate with popping candy inside, was a surprising and delightfully playful way to end a stunning meal.

The wine list is top rate but we made the most of being in a Japanese restaurant and tried a range of sakes, including the very easy to drink Mio sparkling sake and three different kinds of dry sake all recommended by the very knowledgeable and professional sommelier.

I’ve already mentioned the level of service but it is truly something special.  The staff are all highly knowledgeable about the food and drinks they are serving and there are little touches including a small package of cookies given to each female in the party before you leave and a special, complimentary little cake and a Polaroid photo to take home if you’re celebrating a special occasion.  All of these touches on top of the amazing food, wine and sake make Kazuya the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.  And if you don’t have a special occasion, dining at Kazuya makes the evening a special occasion.

http://www.kazuya.co.nz

Miss Clawdy

Miss Clawdy is a Southern American soul food restaurant that has recently opened in the new ASB building in Wynyard Quarter, Auckland.  Like most restaurants in the area, it is child friendly with a couple of dishes especially for the little ones and also colouring sheets and crayons available to keep the kids entertained.

The food is bold and full of flavour and the service friendly and fast.  Like a lot of the new restaurants opening around Auckland, the food is designed to be shared.  We ordered a range of food including the southern fried oyster, the pop corn shrimp and the cuban (pulled pork shoulder) Po’ Boys; the grilled fish and the pulled pork tacos; the baby beetroot, quinoa, chargrilled zucchini and goats curd salad; the snapper cheviche; the southern fried jerk chicken; the hand cut fries and the miss clawdy slaw.

The Po’ Boys were delicious, light fluffy white bread with crisp deep fried prawns, iceberg lettuce and flavoured mayo.  The other two highlights were the snapper cheviche which was light, fresh and tangy and came with thin crispy tortillas to scoop the cheviche onto and the southern fried jerk chicken which had a crisp, crunchy coating with a good kick of spice and was accompanied by a chipotle lime mayo.

The only disappointment was the pulled pork. Although it tend soft and tender, it was a bit bland for me, especially compared to most of the other dishes which were very flavoursome.

We also tried the desserts, as they had cinnamon beignets with butterscotch sauce which are always a favourite and a key lime pie with torched meringue which I’ve always wanted to try.  The key lime pie was thick and gooey but not too tart, with the lime flavour being a bit more subtle than a traditional lemon meringue pie and the cinnamon beignets were soft in the middle and crispy on the outside with a thick coating of cinnamon and sugar.

Miss Clawdy’s isn’t the kind of place to go if you’re watching your waistline as its comfort food.  However its a great place for lunch or a casual dinner with a group and offers something different to other restaurants around Auckland.

http://www.missclawdy.co.nz